Here Are the 15 Most Expensive Artworks Sold at Auction Around the World in August 2021

We combed through the data to bring you the top selling lots of August 2021 from around the world.

Bidders at Tehran Auction's Contemporary Art Sale in August 2021. Courtesy of Tehran Auction.
Bidders at Tehran Auction's Contemporary Art Sale in August 2021. Courtesy of Tehran Auction.

The dog days of summer give auction houses beyond the Big Three a chance to shine. Top results in August were achieved by houses as far flung as Seoul, Tehran, and Los Angeles.

Of particular note was demand for work by artist Lee Ufan, who appears three times on this list. A 1984 oil on canvas with swirls of meditative brushstrokes set a new auction high for the South Korean artist, fetching $2.7 million at Seoul Auction. (The artist’s previous record, of $2.2 million, was set in 2012.)

While South Korea’s auction market remains a fraction of the size of China’s, it has been experiencing considerable growth. In the first six months of 2021, local auction houses generated $115.5 million in fine-art sales, up 343 percent from the equivalent period in 2020 and the largest total since the Artnet Price Database began tracking its performance.

Other highlights of last month include a strong performance by composer and artist Reza Derakshani in Tehran Auction’s contemporary art sale and a surprising depth of demand for William Herbert Dunton’s early 20th century painting Delivering the Mail in Bonhams’s American West sale.

Below, we’ve combed through Artnet’s Price Database to highlight the top sales from August 2021 around the world.

 

1. Lee Ufan, East Winds (1984)

Lee Ufan, <i>East Winds</i> (1984). Courtesy of Seoul Auctions.

Lee Ufan, East Winds (1984). Courtesy of Seoul Auctions.

Final Price: ₩3.1 billion ($2.7 million)

Estimate: Undisclosed

Where & When: Seoul Auction, South Korea, August 24, 2021

 

2. Yayoi Kusama, Infinity-Nets (KPEU) (2016)

Yayoi Kusama, <i>Infinity-Nets (KPEU)</i> (2016). Courtesy of Seoul Auctions.

Yayoi Kusama, Infinity-Nets (KPEU) (2016). Courtesy of Seoul Auctions.

Final Price: ₩2.6 billion ($2.2 million)

Estimate:  ₩1.7 billion to ₩3 billion ($1.5 million to $2.6 million)

Where & When: Seoul Auction, South Korea, August 24, 2021

 

3. Reza Derakshani, Counting Days and Nights, Every Day and Every Night (2017)

Reza Derakshani, Counting Days and Nights, Every Day and Every Night (2017). Courtesy of Tehran Auction.

Final Price: 52 billion IRR ($1.2 million)

Estimate: 30 billion IRR to 40 billion IRR ($714,000 to $952,000)

Where & When: Tehran Auction, Iran, August 12, 2021

 

4. Y.Z. Kami, Blue Dome I (2019)

Y.Z. Kami, <i>Blue Dome I </i> (2019). Courtesy of Tehran Auction.

Y.Z. Kami, Blue Dome I  (2019). Courtesy of Tehran Auction.

Final Price: 46 billion IRR ($1.1 million)

Estimate: 40 billion IRR to 50 billion IRR ($952,000 to $1.2 million)

Where & When: Tehran Auction, Iran, August 12, 2021

 

5. Farhad Moshiri, We the Roses (2012)

 Farhad Moshiri, <i>We the Roses</i> (2012). Courtesy of Tehran Auction.

Farhad Moshiri, We the Roses (2012). Courtesy of Tehran Auction.

Final Price: 42 billion IRR ($999,294)

Estimate: 40 billion IRR to 50 billion IRR ($952,000 to $1.2 million)

Where & When: Tehran Auction, Iran, August 12, 2021

 

6. Ernest Martin Hennings, Indian Horsemen (ca. 1925)

Ernest Martin Hennings, <i>Indian Horsemen</i> (c. 1925). Courtesy of Bonham's.

Ernest Martin Hennings, Indian Horsemen (c. 1925). Courtesy of Bonhams.

Final Price: $918,312

Estimate: $600,000 to $800,000

Where & When: Bonhams Los Angeles, California, August 4, 2021

 

7. Lee Ufan, Dialogue (2012)

Lee Ufan, <I>Dialogue</i> (2012). Courtesy of K Auction.

Lee Ufan, Dialogue (2012). Courtesy of K Auction.

Final Price: ₩700 billion ($601,154)

Estimate: ₩500 billion to ₩650 billion ($429,500 to $558,000)

Where & When: K Auction Seoul, South Korea, August 25, 2021

 

8. Lee Ufan, Dialogue (2007)

Lee Ufan, <i>Dialogue</i> (2007). Courtesy of Seoul Auction.

Lee Ufan, Dialogue (2007). Courtesy of Seoul Auction.

Final Price: ₩660 billion ($566,145)

Estimate: ₩520 billion to ₩800 billion ($446,000 to $686,000)

Where & When: Seoul Auction, South Korea, August 24, 2021

 

9. William Herbert Dunton, Delivering the Mail (ca. 1915)

William Herbert Dunton, Delivering the Mail (c. 1915). Courtesy of Bonhams.

William Herbert Dunton, Delivering the Mail (c. 1915). Courtesy of Bonhams.

Final Price: $525,312

Estimate: $150,000 to $250,000

Where & When: Bonhams Los Angeles, California, August 4, 2021

 

10. Jan Matejko, Wielki Książę Litewski Witold, Portret Adama Sapiehy (1876)

Jan Matejko, Wielki Książę Litewski Witold, <i>Portret Adama Sapiehy</i> (1876).

Jan Matejko, Wielki Książę Litewski Witold, Portret Adama Sapiehy (1876). Courtesy of Sopocki Dom Aukcyjny.

Final Price: PLN 2 million ($510,621)

Estimate: PLN 1.3 million to PLN 1.8 million ($332,00 to $460,000)

Where & When: Sopocki Dom Aukcyjny, Poland, August 21, 2021

 

11. Park Seo-Bo, Écriture No.050319 (2005)

Park Seo-Bo, <i>Écriture No.050319</i> (2005). Courtesy of Seoul Auctions.

Park Seo-Bo, Écriture No.050319 (2005). Courtesy of Seoul Auctions.

Final Price: ₩580 billion ($497,522)

Estimate: ₩580 billion to ₩800 billion ($498,000 to $686,000)

Where & When: Seoul Auction, South Korea, August 24, 2021

 

12. Ayako Rokkaku, Untitled (2018)

Ayako Rokkaku, <i>Untitled</i> (2018). Courtesy of Seoul Auction.

Ayako Rokkaku, Untitled (2018). Courtesy of Seoul Auction.

Final Price:  ₩560 billion ($480,365)

Estimate: ₩500 billion to ₩800 billion ($429,000 to $686,000)

Where & When: Seoul Auction, South Korea, August 24, 2021

13. Yayoi Kusama, Pumpkin (1993)

Yayoi Kusama, <i>Pumpkin </i>(1993). Courtesy of Seoul Auction.

Yayoi Kusama, Pumpkin (1993). Courtesy of Seoul Auction.

Final Price: ₩540 billion ($463,209)

Estimate: ₩500 billion to ₩540 billion ($326,000 to $429,000)

Where & When: Seoul Auction, South Korea, August 24, 2021

 

14. Kim Whan-Ki, 8-VIII-66 (1966)

Kim Whan-Ki, <i>8-VIII-66</i> (1966). Courtesy of Seoul Auction.

Kim Whan-Ki, 8-VIII-66 (1966). Courtesy of Seoul Auction.

Final Price: ₩510 billion ($437,984)

Estimate: ₩320 billion to ₩450 billion ($275,000 to $386,500)

Where & When: K Auction Seoul, South Korea, August 25, 2021

 

15. Kim Tschang-yeul, Water Drops (2000)

Kim Tschang-yeul, <i>Water Drops</i> (2000). Courtesy of Seoul Auction.

Kim Tschang-yeul, Water Drops (2000). Courtesy of Seoul Auction.

Final Price: ₩500 billion ($428,898)

Estimate: ₩500 billion to ₩1.5 trillion ($429,000 to $1.3 million)

Where & When: Seoul Auction, South Korea, August 24, 2021


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